After an arduous three-day business trip upstate (well, three days of drinking, so not that bad, it wasn’t like I was lifting granite blocks, but I did practice my fake laugh a lot, a handy skill I picked up from a play I did called “Movie Talkers.”), I visited my friends Jenn and Dave and their two dogs and two little daughters in North Adams, MA. They live in the picture postcard-cute New England town and there were lots of late-night talking, fun, and no sleep to be had — both the dogs and the girls wrestled each other for a good portion of the weekend. And the girls liked to make sure I woke up as early as possible to play by bouncing on the aero mattress I slept on.
Whenever I visit, my friends, being sweethearts, always invite me and David to move up there, creating bizarre work fantasties where David starts the first New England Renaissance Fair or a stage combat school, and they house me in some office set-up. To which, I’m like “If we’re dreaming, let’s dream big, people.” I’ve always been such an NYC-addict, I’ve never considered it, but now that I’m a little more fried on the challenges of urban living, I took it more seriously. All the people they have befriended whom I met are cool, the town has an artsy feel and is darn pretty, but gosh, there are like three reasons I can’t move there. 1) What would I do for work? 2) I hate driving (which greatly limits where I can live in this country) 3) Everybody’s the same color.
One of the girls and I watched Peter Pan together, and I’m assuming from the cartoon, she learned to call Native Americans “redskins.” (And in my split second decision, I decided not to correct her, though I could’ve done it, in retrospect, in a simple, chill way and I think I stink b/c I didn’t take the opportunity). She said she thought I was from China, and this time, I did take the time to tell her about Korea and the bigger land in my history, New Jersey. (Kudos to me.)
In general, it’s hard to pipe up when you see something is wrong, but with a kid, I feel the added obligation to correct the kid without making them feel like a nincompoop. I mean, I could overreact and jump down a person’s throat, but I’m trying to minimize the people I scar in this lifetime. Neither terms or ideas were her fault — you know, if you’re not exposed to certain information, how would you know? I can’t help but think that if she bumped into nonwhite kids in her nursery school, a bunch of phillipinos for example, she might know some of this.
Her parents rock. (And she rocks too.) They truly are great people who take parenting very seriously and have been nothing short of warm to anyone of different ethnic background, religious or sexual preference, so it’s not that, but there’s a certain amount your kids learn from just being around people other than you … I don’t want to live in a town where the only Asian people are the ones doing your nails and cooking bok choy in the local Asian restaurant. I like bopping around and seeing lots of colors — blacks, Latinos, Asians, whites, dogs, cats, rats, mice, waterbugs, roaches. I love variety and can’t bear to part with it. And also, I’m going to have kids one days! Biracial ones! Perhaps they will be more whack and confused than me (or mentally more grounded, knock on wood) I want them to know there are 80 million different kinds of peeps out there.
Certainly I’ve grown up and thrived in an environment where I was the lone Asian girl in a sea of Jewish and Italian faces and still have lots of good friends and experiences from that time, but something’s changed, and my ideal is to live in a Benetton smorgasbord. (You know, like multiracial, expensively clothed, and model-thin, hardy har har). I guess one of the many cool things I’ve started to think about after this weekend was Native American history, just so I know what to say the next time the subject comes up.